Article By Mike Leaner
Wang Zuo Guo Ji Cheng,
#136 Tangyan Road.
(029) 8918 9111
10:45am – 9:00pm
Average Price per Person /人均消费: 40-50 RMB
PROS: Great flavor; Limited menu means their few dishes are very well done
CONS: Keji Road; Sorry vegans, the broth is made from bone (the wasabi mashed potatoes are good though)
It can’t be easy to open an upscale, Japanese-style ramen place in Xi’an. Lingering regional tensions notwithstanding, this is the “Noodle City,” after all. Some form of noodle restaurant is, almost literally, on every corner, and at a low price. Anyone trying to class up the dish and sell it for 30RMB is going to have to make a case for why that is. Thankfully, it wasn’t long after my first bite that Loong Noodle proved its mettle.
You can find Loong Noodle in Gaoxin at Wangzuo International (旺座国际), a commercial block on the corner of Tangyan Road and Keji Road. It’s a place that, on paper, is easily accessible by public transport (especially by subway, as it’s near Yanpingmen Station). However, at the time of writing Keji Road is a boarded up, congested battlefield of gridlock, sadness and horn-honking due to whatever arcane construction is being done to it. Even still, I would try to plan your visit for a non-peak time (or just take the subway) because the trip is going to be well worth it.
The restaurant is one of the nicest looking places to come to that area in a while. Its design takes more than a little influence from minimalism—shiny concrete floors, straight lines, swanky lights hanging from the ceiling and wooden almost-everything. In addition, the place is super clean. Their kitchens are in full view of the patrons, whether you’re sitting at the counter, at a table with friends, or just rubbernecking on your way in. You get to see them making the noodles, preparing the broth, everything.
And what those kitchen workers prepare is nothing short of delicious. Not knowing really what to go for, I started with a bowl of pork ramen. It came out unbelievably fast; barely-had-opened-my-phone-to-read-some-messages-and-there-was-a-steaming-bowl-of-noodles-in-front-of-me fast. It was a sizeable bowl, filled up with noodles, green onions, a pork medallion and bean sprouts, all swimming in a delicate, flavorful broth. They offered to add another order of noodles to the soup when I had made a dent in it, so I did. I loved that, but came to regret it when a couple of snacks were put in front of me: fried chicken and wasabi mashed potatoes. The chicken, which is said to be “Japanese-style,” was tender and salty and addictive, just about everything you’d want it to be. As for the mashed potatoes, though I’m no huge fan of potatoes served cold, the wasabi made for a curious addition to the dish, adding a lot of interesting aroma and mouth-feel that compelled me to keep eating.
An hour (and a few mugs of Asahi) later, I was giving an enthusiastic thumbs up to the head chef behind the counter. His passion and dedication to his craft has brought another wonderful international flavor to Xi’an, a reminder that, even in the Noodle City, there’s room for something different.
Mike Leaner likes to get dirty but not for free. He can be reached at email@example.com